Stroke FAQ: What is stroke?
- Stroke (or Cerebrovascular accident) is an emergency condition.
- Sudden loss of function of a part of brain is caused by sudden brain damage either due to sudden stoppage of blood supply to brain or due to bleeding within brain.
- The patient usually complains of paralysis of either one side of the body or one limb or sudden onset of inability to speak.
What is a mini-stroke or TIA?
- TIA is transient ischemic attack, also called as ‘mini stroke’ or ‘warning stroke’, is a brief episode of brain dysfunction, caused by temporary blockage of artery in the brain.
- Patients usually present with temporary loss of vision, difficulty in speaking, weakness on one side of the body, numbness of a part of a body.
- The blockage of artery is temporary, & symptoms are also temporary. The clot in the artery dissolves on its own or moves, so that the blood supply returns to normal and your symptoms disappear.
Are there different types of stroke, if yes what are they?
There are two types of strokes.
- Ischemic Stroke – It is caused by blockage of artery in the brain due to blood clot.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke – It is caused due to bleeding inside the brain due to rupture of weakened arteries (blood vessels). Aneurysm & AV malformations are two types of weakening of blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of stroke?
The symptoms depend upon the area of brain affected.
- The most common symptoms (but not limited to) are weakness/inability to move one side of body (or one leg or one arm), deviation of one side of face, loss of sensations over a part of the body, slurred speech/difficulty speaking. There may be loss of consciousness & fall.
- Other symptoms of stroke manifest according to affected area of brain.
What are the risk factors of stroke?
Non Modifiable risk factors
- Age: The stroke rate doubles for each successive 10 years after 55 years of age. But it can happen at any age.
- Gender: Stroke incidences are 1.5 times greater in men than women
- People from some ethnic groups & with family history (in case of familial stroke) are at more risk of suffering from stroke.
Modifiable risk factors
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Cigarette Smoking
- Heart Disease – Coronary Artery Disease, valve disease, irregular heart beat (arrhythmias), etc.
- TIA/mini stroke
- High cholesterol
What are the effects of stroke?
The effects of stroke include:
- Limited physical mobility/activity
- Cognitive problems
- Problems in communication
- Emotional problems
How can one reduce his/her risk of stroke?
Strokes can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. This includes avoiding alcohol and smoking up. Another way is to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and taking anticoagulant medication.
How can stroke be diagnosed?
Stroke is diagnosed primarily on the basis of clinical signs & symptoms. The diagnosis is further supported with the help of brain imaging – CT/MRI scan. Further tests are required to diagnose the underlying conditions leading to stroke.
How can stroke be treated?
- Treatment of a stroke depends on whether it is ischemic or hemorrhagic. Patients are admitted in the stroke unit of the hospital (under neurology/neurosurgery) and are treated as per Stroke Management Guidelines/Protocol. General lines of treatment include:
- Ischemic stroke is usually treated with the help of clot dissolving medication or removal of the clot with the help of a medical device.
- Hemorrhagic stroke is managed conservatively. In case of massive bleed, surgical removal of bleed is recommended.
Conservative management with the help of:
- Monitoring of vitals
- Supportive medications
- Medications to prevent further clotting/bleeding, pain medications, antiseizure medications, medications to control blood pressure, medications to reduce pressure in the brain.
- Nutritional support, nursing care, bed sore care, physiotherapy, speech therapy, psychological support etc.
What is stroke rehabilitation?
The program to help stroke patients to recover back to normal life after an episode of stroke is called as stroke rehabilitation. Stroke rehabilitation involves –
- Physiotherapy – To strengthen motor skills, mobility, range to motion therapy, etc to mobilize the patient out of bed & resume normal physical activity.
- Psychotherapy – Psychological support is crucial for patients suffering from post stroke depression. Psychologists help to bring the patient to the healthy routine.
- Speech & language therapy is intended for patients suffering from post stroke speech disability.